Germany's famous Theresienwiese fields will sit silent this fall, with the official Munich Oktoberfest cancelled for Covid reasons; domestically, Leavenworth's longtime beer party will be dramatically changed. But Oktoberfest lives: Bavarian boosters can still raise a stein at several local lederhosen-y events in 2021.
Oregon's signature version of the fall festival follows the tradition of taking place in mid-September (this year September 16–19)—in other words, during better weather than dreary October. The small town between Portland and Salem is normally best known for its Benedictine monastery, but during the Oktoberfest long weekend the town's Festhalle dance floor will rock with the German-inspired sounds of band Die Schlauberger. As is tradition, Die Fruchtsäule, a harvest monument, will be erected under the Glockenspiel in the middle of downtown Mount Angel.
Not a pilsner or bock enthusiast? Not a problem at Fremont's annual beer shindig held September 17–19, where sours, IPAs, and pumpkin ales pour next to German styles. Partygoers must show proof of Covid vaccination or a recent negative test, and dogs are welcome Sunday only. Besides a nighttime DJ, this event is pretty much all about the booze.
After the Washington State Fair decamps from Puyallup's sprawling fairgrounds, the event center will hop with hops October 8–10. In its 16th year, Oktoberfest NW joins the classic beer and music (albeit '80s cover bands, not necessarily oompah tunes) with a round of games. The Hammerschlagen Tournament of Champions awards the, uh, athlete who drives a nail into a block of wood the best. If that's too exhausting, there's a stein holding contest, too.
The quirky string of Northwest hotels—most housed in buildings that used to be schools or, in one case, a poor farm—hosts events featuring Bavarian foods and their own signature Oktoberfest Lager. Anderson School in Bothell goes German on September 25, with the Oompah Machine performing the hottest tunes you can squeeze out of an accordion. Bend's Old St. Francis School celebrates on September 19 with rock and indie pop, and Edgefield outside Portland picks up the party on September 26.
When Washington's most famous Oktoberfest was cancelled in March, it wasn't only about Covid. The hosts, a group called Projekt Bayern, shared that the Leavenworth city council was steering the beer-heavy festival away from city limits; one representative suggested the party could eventually migrate to a nearby town. This year, the organization will host a Leavenworth Oktoberfest Markt the first three weekends of October, featuring local vendors and artists, plus German foods—but with no entertainment or beer plans. And next year? As with so much of our current existence, the future remains a question mark. (Update: On October 5, organizers announced on Facebook that the 2022 festival would indeed be held in a nearby town: Wenatchee. So...Wenatchee Oktoberfest?)